Friday, April 18th7.4°C
Getting Along With Your Computer

How to survive a tech Christmas

For some people, Christmas means a fight to the death with technology. It used to be that we only had to remember to buy batteries for the shiny new presents, but these days things are a little trickier. Here’s how to spend less time struggling with things and more time enjoying your holiday.

Things should come with cables. But they don’t.

Have the right kind of cables on hand. If you buy a printer, you’re going to need a printer cable. Surprisingly this is often true even if you buy a wireless printer. Many wireless printers must be set up first with a USB cable.

You might end up with more cables than ports to connect them to. If so, pick up a USB hub. Plug the hub into one port, and you’ll gain additional ports (

Did you buy a laptop or a netbook with an HDMI port so you could connect it to that big flat screen TV? You’re going to need an HDMI cable. Often the most expensive cable you can buy is usually sold in the same place you bought the thing for which you need the cable. If you want to read more about the difference between expensive and inexpensive cables, see this article: Or search on “Do I need an expensive HDMI cable?” in the search engine of your choice.

And while you’re sourcing cables, pick up least one extra Ethernet cable. (That’s the kind of cable that connects a computer to a router or modem.) If you need to make changes to your wireless router, you can’t do that over a wireless connection. I know that sounds silly, but it is true.

Devices that use a wireless connection need a working wireless connection

If your visitors bring their wireless devices to your house and plan to use the Internet, they will want to do that with a wireless connection. That means you need a wireless router AND the wireless part of it has to be enabled AND you need to know the password for your wireless network. If you are missing even one of those components, there will be disappointment and sulking.

Before company comes, dig out the information that you wrote down when you set up your wireless network, and have it handy. If you never set up your wireless network, do it now, and write down the information. If you are with Telus or Shaw there is a chance you already have a combination wireless router and modem. If so, the network name and password are on a sticker on the device.

The software that comes with new devices is not necessarily new

Got a new webcam or mp3 player? When you opened the box, there was probably a shiny CD inside with the software ready for you to install. Hang on a minute! There’s no way to know just how long that software has been in that box or how long that box was on the shelf.

Check the manufacturer’s website for newer versions of the software, especially if you are running Windows 8. And if you are running Windows 7 or even Windows Vista, you might not need to install anything extra at all. Windows 7 can often find that latest driver and sometimes the latest software for you. This is not true for all-in-one printer/scanner/fax machines. You need to get the latest software from the website in order for the device to function as anything besides a printer.

Call for help

If you’re trying to set something up, connect things to other things, install something, or print something and it’s just not working…stop. Breathe. Get some help. Maybe you can get in touch with the support people for whatever you’re having trouble with. If not, call your own technical support. I know I’ll be working right through the holiday season to support my customers, old and new.

Merry Christmas, and don’t forget the batteries!

Do you need help with your computer? I'm here to help you and your home or business computer get along!

Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna ( a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email to [email protected].

You can read previous columns here: . If you'd like to subscribe to this column by email, please visit this link: . It's easy, and free. If you'd prefer the RSS Feed, click here:

Read more Computers articles


About the author...

Cate Eales has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible and fun for over 20 years. She lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric, and her dog, Sandy. Cate is a partner in Computer Care Kelowna, helping individuals and small businesses with virus, spyware and malware eradication; personal computer training and management; digital image management; music transfer; and website design, hosting and management.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with your comments, suggestions, or questions. To browse the column archives, visit the Real Life Internet Solutions website at


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories

RSS this page.
(Click for RSS instructions.)